Tag Archives: child to parent violence and abuse

Everything has changed – and nothing has changed

Well this could be true about so many things at the moment! The world we knew is far from the one we are living in at present, and yet the violence and abuse that too many families experience on a daily basis continues. The pandemic has driven a flurry of interest in child to parent violence and abuse from the media; but also people have been looking for different ways to conduct training, and so my diary has been rather taken up by Zoom events! For the last few months I have found myself reflecting in a more concerted way than usual on the progress of work around child to parent violence and abuse since 2010.

So, things that HAVE changed in the last ten years:

  • More research and literature from around the world.
  • More interest and awareness among practitioners as training spreads out.
  • The development of support programmes around the country – with an accompanying body of evidence of effective work – including on-line interventions at the moment, which have the benefit of being able to reach more people.
  • Much more awareness around the issue in the media with significant amounts of “sympathetic” coverage.

Set against things that haven’t changed … and I was struck particularly by how little overall “big picture” progress we have made by reading the conclusions and recommendations to the recent report from Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles, as well as other research at the moment:

  • Still no definition or agreed terminology.
  • Still a need for a more comprehensive safeguarding approach to families experiencing CPV.
  • Still a lack of respite or longer term support that neither criminalises the young person, nor presents the parents as the cause of the problem.
  • Still no embedded support for families, making it subject to programme closures when budget cuts strike.
  • Still no wide recognition of the link between CPV and harm outside of the home, whether criminal exploitation or gang involvement.
  • Still too much silo-working with lack of communication between agencies, and escalating risk going un-acknowledged.
  • Still no “ownership” by any specific department, which means parents are still passed between agencies and no-one takes overall responsibility for coordinating a response.

That all sounds very negative, and in my gloomier moments probably reflects my feelings. But I am also aware that it is important to celebrate what has changed, and not to minimise the huge benefit to families of even small developments that have taken place. Perhaps it is time for a different direction of work, to think and act more strategically; to start to focus efforts higher up and to look for the bigger changes that we now need to see. A massive upheaval in how everything happens may be just the right moment to look at this!

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Taking #CPV Services Online Part 2

Following on from my earlier post about the logistics of providing support for families online rather than in person, I was really pleased to be able to speak with Jane, a parent of 2 adopted children aged 4 and 6, who wanted to share her own experience of accessing help over the last few months. While she had been experiencing some difficulties prior to the spread of COVID, and she had been receiving help in relation to her older child, for her family the effects of lockdown were devastating as the behaviour of her younger child became dangerous and unmanageable as he struggled to cope with the sudden change in routine. Furthermore, the family immediately lost all access to support – formal and informal – and respite, which had previously kept them going.

Googling for sources of information and help, Jane eventually came across the Who’s in Charge? programme, and was able to speak with someone who could reassure her that she was not alone, who could listen without judging, and who was able to put her in touch with an online support programme that was about to start right then. I asked Jane what she would like to tell people about her experience of receiving support: what had been good and what not so good; what those delivering services should bear in mind for the future.

Because I needed help NOW, it was really good that I was able to access a service remotely. It meant that I didn’t need to be “in area” and I didn’t have to join a waiting list for months. There were day-time or evening options which made it so much easier too, as I didn’t then need to worry about childcare while I “attended” the programme. I’m not super confident about technology, but it was really easy to work out, and I only needed a little help.

There were about 5 people each time in our group. On Zoom it can be really tricky if there are lots of people – if someone hogs the conversation it’s hard for other people to get a word in, but with only 5 of us it worked, and the facilitators were really good in making sure everyone had a turn to speak and to be heard. That would be something very important to say though. What makes it work is the competence of the facilitators.

One of the good things for me was the possibility of turning off my camera and microphone, but still being able to hear what was going on and participate. Sometimes I was too distressed and didn’t want people to see me cry, or the kids were making a noise and so it was good that everyone else didn’t have to hear. At the same time though, the other parents were really good at reaching out if they knew someone was distressed. In a normal situation there might have been tissues, or hugs, or a cup of tea. Even without this, you still felt supported as we had all gelled as a group. I think this made it really inclusive.

I realise that my children are still very young, and that there might be different issues for people with teenagers for instance. I didn’t have to worry about them overhearing, or coming in so much. However, other people in the group did have teens and they still managed to make it work. Now we are allowed out of the house it is obviously easier. It would have been different during actual lockdown.

What I would say to other parents experiencing violence and abuse from their children is, “Give it a go! Take the opportunity even if you’re not sure about it. What have you got to lose! It’s a good way to get help if you’re anxious about meeting other people and talking about your experience. We’ve kept in touch since, so the support carries on”.

For facilitators I would say, “This was a very positive experience. It was more accessible, with more options for time, and makes it easier for both parents to attend. The fact that the group was quite small was important to me, and it was crucial to have rules about who speaks when and how this is agreed. The competence of the facilitator is crucial.”

Many thanks to Jane for her honesty and willingness to talk about her experience. As well as Who’s in Charge? many other support programmes are now being offered online. Do check out my Directory page for suggestions if you need to access help.

 

 

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 1

As we entered lockdown in March in the UK, there was significant anxiety initially that families would find it impossible to access the help they needed across many service areas, quickly followed by the development of an online offer, which has continued to evolve and improve over the ensuing months. It is clear that things will remain “different” for a long time, as we get used to living in this new world; but there is already a lot we have learned, and as always we can benefit from sharing and learning together.

In the first of what I hope will be a series of posts exploring taking services online, I bring you an interview / discussion with a team of practitioners in Bedford, using the Who’s In Charge? programme to support families experiencing violence and abuse from their children.

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CPV Lockdown Reflections #2

As we emerge out of lockdown in Britain, I have been musing about what we’ve learned in this period about the issue of child to parent violence and abuse, and about some possible answers to the kinds of questions we are always being asked: Is it getting worse, why is it getting worse – you know the ones!

Each of us has experienced lockdown in a unique way, according to our circumstances, but there are many commonalities. People have reported poor or troubled sleep, the intensity of living in close quarters with the same people and the “pressure cooker” effect as tensions build; the anguish of not being able to touch or hold people we are close to, not feeling able to comfort people in distress, increased anxiety with loss of control over our situation and lives. Many people have also experienced bereavement, financial difficulties or poverty of resources. Some have seen a huge increase in work and all that brings, while others have been left wondering about their long term employment. There have been concerns about the length of time children are spending on their screens, and about the mental health of both old and young. For some there has been the stress of supporting school work, for others the relief of fewer demands to comply with rules and expectations. There has been a notable rise in reports of domestic abuse during this period, and, alongside greater interest in the media, more people have come forward too to talk about the abuse they experience from their own children. Continue reading

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Lockdown reflections

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here (though I’ve been busy on other pages) but I thought I would treat you today to some ramblings and reflections. Like many people I am sure, over the last 3 months I have experienced both periods of intense, pressured work to tight deadlines, and days of feeling bereft of direction and purpose. Conferences, training events and report launches have been cancelled, and it is too easy to forget the hours of work and preparation that will have gone in to them by all involved. For some families, lockdown has brought a relief as stresses have been removed, and more harmonious relationships are formed and developed. For others the pressure cooker environment has increased fear and risk. Practitioners have been forced in to new ways of working – at short notice and without always having the kit or the skills – and yet some of those ways have paid dividends as they have learned to communicate with young people electronically – on their own “territory” – for a change. Being in Lockdown has intensified the sense of importance of what we do, but also the despair that things take so long to accomplish. Continue reading

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Responding to CCVAB / CPV: developing a dataset

The absence of consistent, reliable, and comparable incidence data in the field of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse is not simply frustrating; it presents a significant barrier to raising awareness and the development of a comprehensive response system. It is not only that we have no solid figures to offer, but that there is no widely adopted method of counting in the first place, compounded by the understandable reluctance of families to seek help and become one of those statistics. A new piece of research from CEL&T and Northumbria University in conjunction with Northumbria Police, released this week, sought to develop a dataset which could be adopted easily, and would provide vital information about those young people coming to the attention of the police in order to better inform the development of services. This particular piece of work is one of the strands coming out of the 2016 DHR into the death of ‘Sarah’. The research, and subsequent report, uses the term CCVAB: Childhood challenging violent or aggressive behaviour. The findings were presented to the police on Friday, 24th April by Al Coates, Dr Wendy Thorley, and Jeannine Hughes; and released to the public on Monday 27th. Continue reading

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Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse during Covid-19

 

 

 

Last week I was interested to follow a number of conversations about some of the consequences of Covid-19 on family life. While there have been many tragic examples (for instance, increases in domestic violence abuse and homicides, in the risk of child exploitation, and in child care proceedings), it was notable that some people were also talking about the lightening of the load for their children, the increase in wellbeing even, and the easing of strained family relationships.

It was suggested that families start keeping diaries of what was working, to use as evidence in future, and I retweeted a post from the University of Cumbria asking for stories of families’ journeys through lockdown to inform council and government support services for the future.

Quite serendipitously, today, Professor Rachel Condry and Dr. Caroline Miles have launched a piece of research into the ways that lockdown has affected  families’ experience of violence and abuse from their children (aged 10 – 19), and of the ability to obtain support. They are seeking direct input from families and plan to use the findings to inform the development of policy and practice in the future. If you are interested in taking part, you are invited to complete a short survey. All contributions are anonymous, and the work has been approved by the university ethics committee. You will find more information along with the survey here, and also contact details if you have questions about the content or process of the survey. After you have submitted your replies you will be taken to a “Help page”.

Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles plan to issue interim reports as the work progresses, and I will post more here as these become available. Thank you all for your help!

 

 

 

 

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Reporting on the police response to #CPV

Some reading for you to occupy the next weeks and months!

There is a lot of interest at the moment in developing an improved understanding of, and response to, child to parent violence and abuse from within the police and youth justice services.  See for instance the work within the N8 Policing Research Partnership in England, and also from the state of Victoria in Australia. Another important read from Australia is the PIPA project Report, Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home.  The PIPA project aims to improve evidence regarding:

  • legal responses to AVITH as it presents in different justice and service contexts
  • the co-occurrence of AVITH with other issues and juvenile offending
  •  current responses and gaps in service delivery.

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Supporting adoptive families experiencing #CPV: making things better, not worse

This is a post that has been a long time brewing. My thanks to a friend for her contribution in helping me work out the many issues involved. Any errors or lack of clarity in the way this is laid out are down to me.

The experience of violence and abuse from children within adoptive families has been well researched and documented. (See for instance Selwyn et al and the work of Al Coates and Wendy Thorley here and here.) Greater recognition and the provision of the Adoption Support Fund within England have made it slightly easier for parents to access help when needed within the last years, but it remains the case that many families feel let down by services who have misunderstood their requests for help, or their degree of pain, or even the mechanisms by which such violence might have come about. (If you are in any doubt about this, the website of Special Guardians and Adopters Together is a record of the anguish and anger of a group of parents who feel betrayed in this respect by the system.) I can speak personally about the individuals who have contacted me or spoken to me at events. Continue reading

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“Powerful but dangerous”: telling stories about #CPV

Telling real human stories helps communicate hard, complicated issues to the wider public through the media, but anyone doing so should think carefully about what they are prepared to say and what the consequences might be, writes Karyn McCluskey.

I have written something similar to this in the past, but it always bears repeating … Think carefully before you put yourself and your family forward as a “case study”. Given that I myself put put shouts from time to time for people willing to speak to the press, I grant that this could be construed as hypocritical. I do believe that it is important for people to hear what it is really like to experience child to parent violence, and that without the personal stories it will take much longer for the reality of this tragedy to permeate the general consciousness. I know too that parents have heard another person speak about the help they have received, and it has been the starting point for their own journey back. But I also understand how damaging, and even dangerous,  it might be if you say things you later regret, or your child finds out you have mentioned them, or your family is recognised in some way. And that’s before you start reading the comments from people after the piece is published. Some journalists are happy for interviewees to remain anonymous. Others want to use names and faces, but even the former is not without potential difficulties. Continue reading

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